GI students "walk in" to the lives of others

Rhett Milner said he used the "walk out" to "walk in" to the life of other kids, and find students he doesn't normally talk to (NTV News)

Students walk out, and walk in. For 17 minutes, they paid tribute to the 17 lives cut short in Parkland.

“I need to find another lone wolf.”

An Eagle Scout puts himself in the shoes of kids of others.

“How are you guys?”

Rhett Milner was one of around 800 kids who walked out of Grand Island Senior High on Wednesday, which was about a third of the school.

“What we’re really Trying to do is not be so reactive to problems, got to be proactive,” he said.

While students across the country held walkouts, these kids saw it a little differently.

“What we're doing is a walk in, where you walk into someone's. Make them feel welcomed, feel loved. Make them feel like they're worth it,” said sophomore David Theesen.

Kids say it's not political.

Elmery Garay said, “Gun control had nothing to do with this. We're trying to make people feel wanted.”

Garay and Theesen and other members of a student advisory group encouraged kids to spend 17 minutes seeking out those they don't normally talk to, in honor of the 17 lives lost.

“This is a way to honor the fallen students,” said Christian Bettancourt, as he wore his ROTC uniform.

Student organizers said they wanted their event to be a show of friendship.

“Talking to just one person we don't know could be a big changer, making someone feel wanted. We just wanted them to know they are someone,” Garay said.

Some spent the time talking with friends. Maybe just wanted to be out of class for a few minutes, or follow the crowd.

Others stayed inside.

Some did take the advice of their student leaders.

Rhett Milner engaged in conversations.

“What do you want to do when you get older?” one student asked him.

Milner replied, “I want to write books.”

He connected with some classmates he doesn't hang out with. In the words of a high school kid, he says they “might stop bad stuff before it happens”, if kids feel like they belong.

“So if we have a strong community than these individuals wouldn't go out and do horrible things because they belong to a group of people that care about them, and they care about as well,” Milner said.

Dr. Tawana Grover, superintendent of schools stopped at the GISH football field after the assembly. She said she was proud of the student, who organized the event in less than 48 hours.

The school sent an email to parents, letting them know kids would not face punishment if they walked out.

“Part of our strategic plan is to empower students to own their learning and grow skills in critical thinking and communication. We teach students to approach situations with a clear mind to gain understanding to solve problems. We encourage families to have discussions about current events and understand multiple viewpoints,” the email stated.

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